Volume 49 (2007) Issue 2 Pages 104-110
This study aimed to test the possible use of unmetabolized volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in urine as biomarkers of low-level indoor environmental exposure. Twenty-four subjects in 13 dwellings in a prefecture of Japan participated in this study. Air samples of the breathing zone were collected in the living room and bedroom, along with spot urine samples (before bedtime and first morning voids). Toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene isomers, styrene and p-dichlorobenzene in the air and urine samples were measured by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. For the 21 subjects without solvent exposure at work, there were significant correlations between the time-weighted average air concentrations in the bedroom and morning urinary concentrations for toluene, o-xylene, total xylene and p-dichlorobenzene (correlation coefficients of 0.54, 0.61, 0.56 and 0.84, respectively). Multiple linear regression analysis showed only air VOCs in the bedroom influenced the morning urinary VOC concentrations. We concluded that unmetabolized VOCs in the urine can provide a reliable biological indicator for air VOC exposures in non-occupational environments.